“Yes,” said Joe, “you can cry now.”
MR. SHEEHAN SPEAKS
Joe helped to carry what was mortal of Eskew from Ariel’s house to its final abiding-place. With him, in that task, were Buckalew, Bradbury, the Colonel, and the grandsons of the two latter, and Mrs. Louden drew in her skirts grimly as her step-son passed her in the mournful procession through the hall. Her eyes were red with weeping (not for Eskew), but not so red as those of Mamie Pike, who stood beside her.
On the way to the cemetery, Joe and Ariel were together in a carriage with Buckalew and the minister who had read the service, a dark, pleasant-eyed young man;—and the Squire, after being almost overcome during the ceremony, experienced a natural reaction, talking cheerfully throughout the long drive. He recounted many anecdotes of Eskew, chuckling over most of them, though filled with wonder by a coincidence which he and Flitcroft had discovered; the Colonel had recently been made the custodian of his old friend’s will, and it had been opened the day before the funeral. Eskew had left everything he possessed—with the regret that it was so little—to Joe.
“But the queer thing about it,” said the Squire, addressing himself to Ariel, “was the date of it, the seventeenth of June. The Colonel and I got to talkin’ it over, out on his porch, last night, tryin’ to rec’lect what was goin’ on about then, and we figgered it out that it was the Monday after you come back, the very day he got so upset when he saw you goin’ up to Louden’s law-office with your roses.”
Joe looked quickly at Ariel. She did not meet his glance, but, turning instead to Ladew, the clergyman, began, with a barely perceptible blush, to talk of something he had said in a sermon two weeks ago. The two fell into a thoughtful and amiable discussion, during which there stole into Joe’s heart a strange and unreasonable pain. The young minister had lived in Canaan only a few months, and Joe had never seen him until that morning; but he liked the short, honest talk he had made; liked his cadenceless voice and keen, dark face; and, recalling what he had heard Martin Pike vociferating in his brougham one Sunday, perceived that Ladew was the fellow who had “got to go” because his sermons did not please the Judge. Yet Ariel remembered for more than a fortnight a passage from one of these sermons. And as Joe looked at the manly and intelligent face opposite him, it did not seem strange that she should.
He resolutely turned his eyes to the open window and saw that they had entered the cemetery, were near the green knoll where Eskew was to lie beside a brother who had died long ago. He let the minister help Ariel out, going quickly forward himself with Buckalew; and then—after the little while that the restoration of dust to dust mercifully needs—he returned to the carriage only to get his hat.